Anticipating and Answering Parent Questions about Edtech
Educators and school technology staff across the nation spend hours planning, fundraising, and designing innovative curricula that incorporate edtech, and they are often excited to start implementing programming as soon as they receive the tools to do so.
While the benefits, processes, and outcomes associated with edtech may seem second-nature to those of us on the inside of the educational system, edtech can be a whole new world for parents on the receiving end of the shift to blended learning and technology integration.
To make the most out of any program and ensure family buy-in, it is important to help parents and other family members feel comfortable with the changes and excited about the new opportunities to which their child will be exposed. A major part of this includes anticipating and answering questions about edtech and how it will impact their child’s education.
Anticipating parent questions about edtech
How do we as educators prepare for questions from families? It starts with listening to the sources around us.
One such resource is an episode of WNYC’s "Note to Self" podcast titled “A Parent’s Guide to All That ‘Ed Tech’ in Your Kid’s Classroom.” The podcast—hosted by Manoush Zomorodi, with feature guests Anya Kamenetz (NPR’s Education blogger) and Adriene Hill (senior reporter for Marketplace’s LearningCurve project)—provides a glimpse into the parent mindset when it comes to edtech in the classroom.
By listening to the podcast, one can see how families might be confused or concerned about what is really going on in the classroom with regard to technology. Contributing factors may include student inability to accurately portray technology's use and purpose, concerns about games taking the place of learning fundamentals, and even family rules about screen time at home.
Over the course of the podcast, the guest speakers share questions that parents can—and, in their opinion, should—ask of schools to find out more about their reasoning and goals, as well as other aspects of technology implementation. As detailed below, many of these questions taken from the podcast fall into three categories: preparation, content, and expectations.
Where are you getting the curriculum from and how successful has it been in the past?
How are teachers being trained and developed to use it effectively?
How will the school evaluate the outcome of the new system?
How will class work or run?
What type of games are being used and how are students engaged?
What concepts or higher-order thinking skills are being developed?
What will the new expectations be for students and parents?
What will they need to do at home/What will homework look like?
What about privacy—what type of data is being collected during use?
While each school and classroom may have different systems in place and therefore offer different answers, parents will typically want to know this core information: How edtech will impact (and improve) their student’s learning, what is expected of them to support this integration, and how they can be assured that their student is engaging in high-quality, meaningful activities.
Answering parent questions about edtech
Many of the questions parents ask might stem from anxiety over the unfamiliar—if something is new to them, how do they know it will be successful for their child, and how will they support their child in learning? It is important to share the district’s vision and explain why certain programs are being implemented in order to relieve the concerns of parents when describing edtech’s new role in the classroom.
Prior to communicating changes with parents, take time to gather key information that will help parents understand the purpose of—and benefits associated with—edtech integration.
This may include:
Lists of skills and content that will be covered during use
Samples of projects or completed assignments from previous students
Data analysis of any available data highlighting student progress
A description of how the individual classroom initiative fits within the scope of the larger school or district’s goals with regard to student learning
Additionally, by incorporating programs that are “research-proven” rather than simply “research-based,” educators are able to share proof of edtech effectiveness. This may help many parents feel more confident in the choice of programming.
As schools implement edtech to improve student learning, it is essential to help parents and families understand the value of such a curriculum and aid them in adjusting to a style of learning that may be new or unfamiliar. By anticipating and answering questions that parents may have about edtech, educators and school administrators can work to ensure parents are on board, which in turn helps provide support to students.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What is your school or district doing to facilitate better communicaiton between parents and teachers around edtech in the classroom? Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and let us know your thoughts and experiences on this topic!
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